Senior republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey has died, Sinn Fein has announced.
Storey, from west Belfast, was a highly influential presence within the republican movement throughout the Troubles and subsequent peace process.
The former Sinn Fein chairman north of the border was 64 and had been unwell for a period of time.
Party president Mary Lou McDonald said: “It was with deep sadness that I learned today of the death of Bobby Storey.
Storey spent more than 20 years in prison during the Troubles.
He was sentenced to 18 years for possession of a rifle in 1981 and also spent several periods behind bars remanded on other charges.
As a teenager, he had been interned without charge.
In 1983 he was involved in a mass escape by republican prisoners from the Maze paramilitary prison near Lisburn.
In 2005, then Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside used parliamentary privilege to claim that Storey was the IRA’s head of intelligence. He also alleged he was involved in the IRA’s £26.5 million robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast in 2004.
Three years earlier, police investigating the murder of former IRA member Kevin McGuigan in Belfast arrested Storey.
He was subsequently released without charge.
In a press conference after his release he compared the IRA to a caterpillar, insisting the organisation had become a “butterfly” and had “flew away”.
“The IRA has gone. The IRA has stood down, they have put their arms beyond use,” he said.
“They have left the stage, they are away and they’re not coming back.”
In 2014, he was arrested as part of the police’s overall investigation into the abduction and murder of Belfast mother of 10 Jean McConville in 1972. He was released without charge.
Ms McDonald described him as a “champion of the peace process”.
“Bobby was extremely committed to the pursuit of a United Ireland with equality and social justice for all,” she said.
“He will be greatly missed.”